William Dietrich biography

Author Biography  | Books by this Author

William Dietrich

William Dietrich

William Dietrich Biography

William Dietrich grew up near Puget Sound in the shadow of Mount Rainier.The influence of dramatic landscapes on people permeates not only his non-fiction but his novels, which are set in various places around the globe including Antarctica, the Australian Outback, Tibet, and the Caribbean.

The Pulitzer-winning journalist’s non-fiction has been widely used in university classes and his fiction has been sold into twenty-eight languages.

Dietrich was born on Sept. 29, 1951 in Tacoma, WA, graduated from Mount Tahoma High School, and attended Fairhaven College, an experimental liberal arts division of Western Washington University. Interest in writing led him to journalism at Western, and his first job was covering agricultural Skagit County for the Bellingham, WA, Herald.

Dietrich moved back to the same area a quarter-century later, now residing only twenty miles from that first bureau office. In 2006, he took a half-time position as an assistant professor teaching environmental journalism and writing at Western.

From Bellingham in 1974, he was soon sent to report from the state capital in Olympia and then covered Congress for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. Not exactly enamored of life "inside the beltway," he returned to the Northwest to write for the Vancouver Columbian in time to cover the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens next door. In 1982 he took a job at the Seattle Times, where he worked, on and off, through 2008. Times assignments provided wonderful opportunities to report from the Arctic and Antarctic and to circle the globe, covering subjects ranging from the military to the environment. He won reporting and study fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Woods Hole Microbiological Institute, and Scripps.

His first book, The Final Forest, (1992) grew out of his reporting on the spotted owl and old growth forest debate that convulsed the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Passage (1995) is an environmental and cultural history of the Columbia River inspired by its imperiled salmon runs and epic pioneer past.

Dietrich covered many science-related topics. A 1994 fellowship to Antarctica prompted the author to take a stab at a lifelong goal of writing a novel by producing the World War II bio-terrorism thriller Ice Reich (1998).

He followed this with an Orwellian view of stultifying globalization and wilderness release in the Australian eco-fable Getting Back (2000) and then returned to Antarctica and the South Pole for the claustrophobic murder thriller Dark Winter (2001).

Dietrich has loved history since childhood and a 1996 visit to Great Britain led to the ancient Roman fortification across northern England known as Hadrian’s Wall. Even before his first novel was published he was determined to write a story about this evocative place, and the result is a war and romance novel set in Roman Britain called Hadrian’s Wall (2004).

Meanwhile, some of the essays he has written about nature for the Seattle Times were collected to create Natural Grace (2003). Royalties are donated to land preservation and environmental education.

Dietrich’s fascination with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire continued into a novel about Attila the Hun called The Scourge of God (2005).

He then approached the ancient world from a different perspective, writing a novel of pyramid lore set against Bonaparte’s 1798 invasion of Egypt and called Napoleon’s Pyramids (2007). A sequel set during Napoleon’s 1799 invasion of the Holy Land, The Rosetta Key, was published in 2008, and Ethan Gage returns in The Dakota Cipher in 2009. Another book on the American adventurer is in the works.

Dietrich is still married to the wonderful woman he met in college, has two grown daughters, and when not writing or reporting he reads, hikes, sails, watches movies, remodels, and waves around the Roman cavalry sword his wife got to inspire him.

From the author's website.

William Dietrich's website

This bio was last updated on 08/23/2013. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by William Dietrich at BookBrowse
The Barbary Pirates jacket The Dakota Cipher jacket The Rosetta Key jacket Napoleon's Pyramids jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
  • Book Jacket: Mercury
    by Margot Livesey
    Margot Livesey explores the moneyed suburbs of Boston and creates a modern morality tale chronicling...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.